Senate to Vote on Military Sexual Assault Measures

Image: Republican Senator from New Hampshire Kelly Ayotte and Democratic Senator from Missouri Claire McCaskill
epa04058567 Democratic Senator from Missouri Claire McCaskill (L) listens to Republican Senator from New Hampshire Kelly Ayotte (R) speak to members of the news media regarding a renewed debate in the Senate on judicial measures to curb sexual assaults in the military, on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, USA, 06 February 2014. EPA/MICHAEL REYNOLDSMICHAEL REYNOLDS / EPA

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The Senate is set to vote Thursday afternoon on two proposals to curb sexual assault in the military.

The measure from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., would remove consideration of sexual assault crimes from the military chain of command. She has support from a bipartisan group of 55 senators -- but at this point, it appears unlikely that her bill will get the 60 votes it needs to move forward. Pentagon brass has expressed strong opposition to the proposal, saying that it would hurt the accountability and leadership of military leaders.

A second proposal from Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., wouldn't go that far; it would prevent accused members of the military from using the so-called "good soldier" defense during most sexual assault prosecutions.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., is cosponsoring that proposal, and it is expected to pass easily.

Both proposals were considered last year as part of a major defense bill, but the sexual assault measures never came up for a vote.